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The King of Chao was on the point of sending an envoy to Ch’u

The King of Chao was on the point of sending an envoy to Ch’u. He played for a while on the cither, and then dispatched him saying, "Be careful not to forget the words of my message."
The envoy received the order kneeling and said without rising, "Never have I heard Your Majesty play such moving music on the cither as today."
The king said, "It is true. The cither is certainly well tuned."
The envoy said, "Since it is in tune, it would be a good thing to make a note of the position of the bridge."
The king said, "It will not do. As the weather is dry or wet, so the strings are loose or tight. The bridge must be adjustable, and cannot be marked for a given position."
The envoy said, "May I borrow a metaphor from this? Ch’u is more than a thousand li distant from Chao. Furthermore fortune is variable. Bad luck calls for condolences, and good luck for congratulation. It is like the bridge of a cither which must be adjustable and cannot be marked for a given position. So when a ruler sends an envoy, he should hold him to the mission he is sent on and not charge him with specific words."
The Ode says,
Many are the messengers,
Ever anxious lest they should not succeed.
It is lamenting that subordinates are controlled from above.
赵王使人于楚,鼓瑟而遣之,曰:“慎无失吾言。”使者受命,伏而不起,曰:“大王鼓瑟,未尝若今日之悲也。”王曰:“调。”使者曰:“调则可记其柱。”王曰:“不可。天有燥湿,弦有缓急,柱有推移,不可记也。”使者曰:“请借此以喻。楚之去赵也,千有馀里,亦有吉凶之变,凶则吊之,吉则贺之,犹柱之有推移,不可记也。故王之使人,必慎其所之,而不任以辞。”《诗》曰:“征夫捷捷,每怀靡及。”盖伤自上而御下也。

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